Recommendations for improving WordPress plugin quality
Daniel Pataki is generally a thoughtful writer, and he knows his stuff with WordPress. He’s written in-depth articles for Smashing Magazine and others. I hesitate to link to anything on WPMUDev, but this post is worth reading. Daniel advocates that WordPress needs better plugins, and offers ways to help it happen.
Despite the abundance and clear popularity of plugins, there isn’t a lot being done to make sure that uploaded plugins are of high quality. Compared to themes where attention to small details can be felt recognized, it is, unfortunately, relatively easy to sneak bad plugins by the review team.
Before you get upset (I did, at least), he goes into detail about the situation and properly notes the many tricky components to overcome for ensuring good plugin quality. In the end, he promotes a few ways to improve the system:
- Coaching programs on “how to make a plugin.”
- A common framework like the WordPress plugin boilerplate.
- Create a section of the repo for plugins of assured high quality.
- Create badges within the repo for community purposes.
- Encourage mentorship programs.
Of his ideas, I think number three is good, but otherwise the initiatives are better left to third parties or to not be done at all. However, that’s not the point I want to make.
I think we need to stop thinking of the plugin repo as a place to find “good” plugins. It’s just a distribution center. And WordPress officially “recommending” plugins in a manual way is dangerous territory; the economic impacts of that are simply huge and not a battle WordPress needs.
I would love to have it, but even with recommended plugins, I’m not sure WordPress.org is the right place. I think the community can come together to make recommended plugins, and WordPress.org itself could perhaps enable that, with site code and APIs like the favoriting tool to help.
Anyway, I agree with Daniel to a degree, but code quality on WordPress.org or anywhere is really, really hard to ensure. I’d love to see more discussion around this topic though.